bims-instec Biomed News
on Intestinal stem cells and chemoresistance in colon cancer and intestinal regeneration
Issue of 2023‒01‒29
27 papers selected by
Maria-Virginia Giolito
Free University of Brussels

  1. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2023 Jan 23. pii: izad003. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Incidences of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, are escalating worldwide and can be considered a global public health problem. Given that the gold standard approach to IBD therapeutics focuses on reducing the severity of symptoms, there is an urgent unmet need to develop alternative therapies that halt not only inflammatory processes but also promote mucosal repair. Previous studies have identified increased stem cell factor (SCF) expression in inflamed intestinal mucosal tissues. However, the role that SCF plays in mediating intestinal inflammation and repair has not been explored.METHODS: Changes in the expression of SCF were evaluated in the colonic tissue of healthy mice and during dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis. Furthermore, mucosal wound healing and colitis severity were analyzed in mice subjected to either mechanical biopsy or DSS treatment, respectively, following intestinal epithelial cell-specific deletion of SCF or anti-SCF antibody administration.
    RESULTS: We report robust expression of SCF by intestinal epithelial cells during intestinal homeostasis with a switch to immune cell-produced SCF during colitis. Data from mice with intestinal epithelial cell-specific deletion of SCF highlight the importance of immune cell-produced SCF in driving the pathogenesis of colitis. Importantly, antibody-mediated neutralization of total SCF or the specific SCF248 isoform decreased immune cell infiltration and enhanced mucosal wound repair following biopsy-induced colonic injury or DSS-induced colitis.
    CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that SCF functions as a pro-inflammatory mediator in mucosal tissues and that specific neutralization of SCF248 could be a viable therapeutic option to reduce intestinal inflammation and promote mucosal wound repair in individuals with IBD.
    Keywords:  IBD; epithelia; intestine; mucosal repair; pro-inflammatory cytokine
  2. Front Immunol. 2022 ;13 1011247
      The protective role of Natural Killer (NK) cell tumour immunosurveillance has long been recognised in colorectal cancer (CRC). However, as most patients show limited intra-tumoral NK cell infiltration, improving our ability to identify those with high NK cell activity might aid in dissecting the molecular features which underlie NK cell sensitivity. Here, a novel CRC-specific NK cell gene signature that infers NK cell load in primary tissue samples was derived and validated in multiple patient CRC cohorts. In contrast with other NK cell gene signatures that have several overlapping genes across different immune cell types, our NK cell signature has been extensively refined to be specific for CRC-infiltrating NK cells. The specificity of the signature is substantiated in tumour-infiltrating NK cells from primary CRC tumours at the single cell level, and the signature includes genes representative of NK cells of different maturation states, activation status and anatomical origin. Our signature also accurately discriminates murine NK cells, demonstrating the applicability of this geneset when mining datasets generated from preclinical studies. Differential gene expression analysis revealed tumour-intrinsic features associated with NK cell inclusion versus exclusion in CRC patients, with those tumours with predicted high NK activity showing strong evidence of enhanced chemotactic and cytotoxic transcriptional programs. Furthermore, survival modelling indicated that NK signature expression is associated with improved survival outcomes in CRC patients. Thus, scoring CRC samples with this refined NK cell signature might aid in identifying patients with high NK cell activity who could be prime candidates for NK cell directed immunotherapies.
    Keywords:  NK cells; cancer immunology; colorectal cancer; gene signature; immunotherapy
  3. Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 26. 14(1): 417
      Achieving systemic tumor control across metastases is vital for long-term patient survival but remains intractable in many patients. High lesion-level response heterogeneity persists, conferring many dissociated responses across metastatic lesions. Most studies of metastatic disease focus on tumor molecular and cellular features, which are crucial to elucidating the mechanisms underlying lesion-level variability. However, our understanding of lesion-specific heterogeneity on the macroscopic level, such as lesion dynamics in growth, response, and progression during treatment, remains rudimentary. This study investigates lesion-specific response heterogeneity through analyzing 116,542 observations of 40,612 lesions in 4,308 metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients. Despite significant differences in their response and progression dynamics, metastatic lesions converge on four phenotypes that vary with anatomical site. Importantly, we find that organ-level progression sequence is closely associated with patient long-term survival, and that patients with the first lesion progression in the liver often have worse survival. In conclusion, our study provides insights into lesion-specific response and progression heterogeneity in mCRC and creates impetus for metastasis-specific therapeutics.
  4. Development. 2023 Jan 24. pii: dev.200932. [Epub ahead of print]
      Intestinal homeostasis depends on the interactions among the intestinal epithelium, the immune system, and the microbiota. Because of these complicated connections, there are many problems that need to be solved. Current research has indicated that the target genes under Wnt signaling are responsible for controlling intestinal stem cell fate and modulating intestinal homeostasis. As our data shown, loss of Frizzled-7 (Fzd7), an important element in the Wnt signaling, interrupted the differentiation of intestinal stem cells into absorptive progenitors instead of secretory progenitors (precursors of goblet and Paneth cells). The alteration in canonical Wnt and Notch signaling pathways interrupted the epithelial homeostasis resulting to a decrease of physical protection in intestines. Several phenotypes in Fzd7-deleted model were similar to the features of enterocolitis, such as shortened intestines, decreased numbers of goblet cells and Paneth cells, and severe inflammation. Additionally, loss of Fzd7 exacerbated the defects in a chemical-induced colitis model and could initiate tumorigenesis. These findings may provide important information for the discovery of efficient therapeutic methods to treat enterocolitis and related cancers in the intestines.
    Keywords:  Frizzled-7; Goblet/Paneth cells; Inflammation; Intestinal epithelium; Tumorigenesis
  5. Anticancer Res. 2023 Feb;43(2): 613-620
      BACKGROUND/AIM: Chemotherapy combined with anti-EGFR or anti-VEGF monoclonal antibodies (mAb) is widely used to treat patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Here, we investigated the effects of these antibodies on T-cell infiltration and T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire variation in CRC liver metastases.MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ten patients with mCRC received chemotherapy in combination with anti-EGFR (n=6) or anti-VEGF (n=4) mAb. T-cell infiltration was examined for CD3 and CD8 by carrying out immunohistochemistry on biopsy or surgical specimens from liver metastases before and after treatment. TCR repertoire analysis was carried out on specimens with post-treatment CD3+ T-cell infiltration.
    RESULTS: T-cell infiltrations were approximately 83% (5/6) and 50% (2/4), following treatment with anti-EGFR or anti-VEGF mAb, respectively. TCR repertoire analysis revealed higher clonality and lower diversity of TCR alpha and beta (TRA and TRB) in the anti-VEGF mAb group than that in the anti-EGFR group mAb. Furthermore, the percentage of the common TCR clones between infiltrating T cells and T cells in peripheral blood was significantly lower in the anti-VEGF mAb group compared to that in the anti-EGFR mAb group.
    CONCLUSION: The population of T cells infiltrating liver metastases in the anti-VEGF mAb group differed from that in the anti-EGFR mAb group.
    Keywords:  Anti-EGFR; TCR; anti-VEGF; metastatic colorectal cancer; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes
  6. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2023 Jan 23. pii: S1040-8428(23)00008-2. [Epub ahead of print] 103920
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third cause of cancer death worldwide. Although, in some cases, treatment can increase patient survival and reduce cancer recurrence, in many cases, tumors can develop resistance to therapy leading to recurrence. One of the main reasons for recurrence and therapy resistance is the presence of cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs possess a self-renewal ability, and their stemness properties lead to the avoidance of apoptosis, and allow a new clone of cancer cells to emerge. Numerous investigations inidicated the involvment of cellular signaling pathways in embryonic development, and growth, repair, and maintenance of tissue homeostasis, also participate in the generation and maintenance of stemness in colorectal CSCs. This review discusses the role of Wnt, NF-κB, PI3K/AKT/mTOR, Sonic hedgehog, and Notch signaling pathways in colorectal CSCs, and the possible modulating drugs that could be used in treatment for resistant CRC.
    Keywords:  Cellular metabolism; cancer initiating cells; cancer stem cells; colorectal cancer; drug resistance; signaling pathways
  7. EMBO Rep. 2023 Jan 27. e54895
      Colon tumors of the mesenchymal subtype have the lowest overall survival. Snail1 is essential for the acquisition of this phenotype, characterized by increased tumor stemness and invasion, and high resistance to chemotherapy. Here, we find that Snail1 expression in colon tumor cells is dependent on an autocrine noncanonical Wnt pathway. Accordingly, depletion of Ror2, the co-receptor for noncanonical Wnts such as Wnt5a, potently decreases Snail1 expression. Wnt5a, Ror2, and Snail1 participate in a self-stimulatory feedback loop since Wnt5a increases its own synthesis in a Ror2- and Snail1-dependent fashion. This Wnt5a/Ror2/Snail1 axis controls tumor invasion, chemoresistance, and formation of tumor spheres. It also stimulates TGFβ synthesis; consequently, tumor cells expressing Snail1 are more efficient in activating cancer-associated fibroblasts than the corresponding controls. Ror2 downmodulation or inhibition of the Wnt5a pathway decreases Snail1 expression in primary colon tumor cells and their ability to form tumors and liver metastases. Finally, the expression of SNAI1, ROR2, and WNT5A correlates in human colon and other tumors. These results identify inhibition of the noncanonical Wnt pathway as a putative colon tumor therapy.
    Keywords:  Snail1; cancer stem cell; chemoresistance; metastasis; noncanonical Wnt
  8. World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2023 Jan 15. 15(1): 55-68
      In recent years, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have made significant breakthroughs in the treatment of various tumors, greatly improving clinical efficacy. As the fifth most common antitumor treatment strategy for patients with solid tumors after surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapy, the therapeutic response to ICIs largely depends on the number and spatial distribution of effector T cells that can effectively identify and kill tumor cells, features that are also important when distinguishing malignant tumors from "cold tumors" or "hot tumors". At present, only a small proportion of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients with deficient mismatch repair (dMMR) or who are microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) can benefit from ICI treatments because these patients have the characteristics of a "hot tumor", with a high tumor mutational burden (TMB) and massive immune cell infiltration, making the tumor more easily recognized by the immune system. In contrast, a majority of CRC patients with proficient MMR (pMMR) or who are microsatellite stable (MSS) have a low TMB, lack immune cell infiltration, and have almost no response to immune monotherapy; thus, these tumors are "cold". The greatest challenge today is how to improve the immunotherapy response of "cold tumor" patients. With the development of clinical research, immunotherapies combined with other treatment strategies (such as targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy) have now become potentially effective clinical strategies and research hotspots. Therefore, the question of how to promote the transformation of "cold tumors" to "hot tumors" and break through the bottleneck of immunotherapy for cold tumors in CRC patients urgently requires consideration. Only by developing an in-depth understanding of the immunotherapy mechanisms of cold CRCs can we screen out the immunotherapy-dominant groups and explore the most suitable treatment options for individuals to improve therapeutic efficacy.
    Keywords:  Cold tumors; Colorectal cancer; Combination therapy; Effector T cells; Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Immunotherapy mechanism
  9. EMBO Mol Med. 2023 Jan 26. e15914
      Peritoneal metastases are a common form of tumor cell dissemination in gastrointestinal malignancies. Peritoneal metastatic disease (PMD) is associated with severe morbidity and resistance to currently employed therapies. Given the distinct route of dissemination compared with distant organ metastases, and the unique microenvironment of the peritoneal cavity, specific tumor cell characteristics are needed for the development of PMD. In this review, we provide an overview of the known histopathological, genomic, and transcriptomic features of PMD. We find that cancers representing the mesenchymal subtype are strongly associated with PMD in various malignancies. Furthermore, we discuss the peritoneal niche in which the metastatic cancer cells reside, including the critical role of the peritoneal immune system. Altogether, we show that PMD should be regarded as a distinct disease entity, that requires tailored treatment strategies.
    Keywords:  gastrointestinal cancer; metastasis; peritoneum; tumor biology; tumor microenvironment
  10. Nat Genet. 2023 Jan 26.
      APOBEC mutational signatures SBS2 and SBS13 are common in many human cancer types. However, there is an incomplete understanding of its stimulus, when it occurs in the progression from normal to cancer cell and the APOBEC enzymes responsible. Here we whole-genome sequenced 342 microdissected normal epithelial crypts from the small intestines of 39 individuals and found that SBS2/SBS13 mutations were present in 17% of crypts, more frequent than most other normal tissues. Crypts with SBS2/SBS13 often had immediate crypt neighbors without SBS2/SBS13, suggesting that the underlying cause of SBS2/SBS13 is cell-intrinsic. APOBEC mutagenesis occurred in an episodic manner throughout the human lifespan, including in young children. APOBEC1 mRNA levels were very high in the small intestine epithelium, but low in the large intestine epithelium and other tissues. The results suggest that the high levels of SBS2/SBS13 in the small intestine are collateral damage from APOBEC1 fulfilling its physiological function of editing APOB mRNA.
  11. Cancer Sci. 2023 Jan 24.
      The Brother of Regulator of Imprinted Sites (BORIS,gene symbol is CTCFL) has previously been shown to promote colorectal cancer cell proliferation, inhibit cancer cell apoptosis, and resist the chemotherapy. However it is unknown whether Boris plays a role in the progression of in situ colorectal cancer. Here Boris knockout (KO) mice was constructed. The function loss of the cloned Boris mutation which was retained in KO mice was verified by testing its activities in colorectal cell lines compared with Boris wildtype gene. Boris knockout reduced the incidence and severity of azoxymethane/dextran sulfate-sodium (AOM/DSS)-induced colon cancer. It emphasized the importance of Boris in the progression of in situ colorectal cancer. Boris knockout significantly promoted the phosphorylation of γH2AX and the DNA damage in colorectal cancer tissues, and suppressed Wnt and MAPK pathways which are responsible for the callback of DNA damage repair. It indicates the strong inhibition of colorectal cancer in Boris KO mice. By considering that DSS promoted inflammation contributes to tumorigensis, Boris KO mice were also studied in DSS-induced colitis. Our data showed that Boris knockout alleviated DSS-induced colitis and Boris knockdown inhibited NF-κB signaling pathway in RAW264.7 cells. Thus Boris knockout eliminates colorectal cancer generation by inhibiting DNA damage repair in cancer cells and relieving inflammation in macrophage. Our findings demonstrated the importance of Boris in the development of in situ colorectal cancer and provided evidence for the feasibility of colorectal cancer therapy on Boris.
    Keywords:  Boris; DNA damage repair; colitis;inflammation; colorectal cancer
  12. Ther Adv Med Oncol. 2023 ;15 17588359221148540
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most lethal cancer worldwide and the prognosis of metastatic CRC (mCRC) remains poor. Recent advancements in translational research have led to the identification of several new therapeutic targets and improved the treatment outcome of patients with tumours harbouring BRAF V600E mutation, (HER2) ErBB2 alterations, NTRK gene fusions and KRAS(G12C) mutation. Improved understanding towards the mechanism of resistance to targeted therapy such as anti-epidermal growth factor receptor antibodies and the evolving role of therapeutic monitoring with circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) has enabled the longitudinal tracking of clonal evolution during treatment and the individualization of subsequent treatments. To broaden the community-based implementation of precision oncology in directing targeted therapies for patients with gastrointestinal cancers including mCRC, the feasibility of 'Master Protocols' that utilizes ctDNA-based genotyping platforms is currently being evaluated. Such protocols encompass both observational and interventional clinical trials of novel targeted therapies conducted within a large clinical trial network. In this review, we will discuss the latest developments in targeted therapies, and therapeutic strategies for overcoming acquired drug resistance in patients with mCRC.
    Keywords:  BRAF inhibitor; EGFR inhibitor; colorectal cancer; personalized medicine; precision oncology; targeted therapy
  13. Mol Cancer. 2023 Jan 24. 22(1): 17
      BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer liver metastases (CRCLM) are associated with a poor prognosis, reflected by a five-year survival rate of 14%. Anti-angiogenic therapy through anti-VEGF antibody administration is one of the limited therapies available. However, only a subgroup of metastases uses sprouting angiogenesis to secure their nutrients and oxygen supply, while others rely on vessel co-option (VCO). The distinct mode of vascularization is reflected by specific histopathological growth patterns (HGPs), which have proven prognostic and predictive significance. Nevertheless, their molecular mechanisms are poorly understood.METHODS: We evaluated CRCLM from 225 patients regarding their HGP and clinical data. Moreover, we performed spatial (21,804 spots) and single-cell (22,419 cells) RNA sequencing analyses to explore molecular differences in detail, further validated in vitro through immunohistochemical analysis and patient-derived organoid cultures.
    RESULTS: We detected specific metabolic alterations and a signature of WNT signalling activation in metastatic cancer cells related to the VCO phenotype. Importantly, in the corresponding healthy liver of CRCLM displaying sprouting angiogenesis, we identified a predominantly expressed capillary subtype of endothelial cells, which could be further explored as a possible predictor for HGP relying on sprouting angiogenesis.
    CONCLUSION: These findings may prove to be novel therapeutic targets to the treatment of CRCLM, in special the ones relying on VCO.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer liver metastases; Glycolysis; Histopathological growth patterns; Pentose phosphate pathway; Sprouting angiogenesis; Vessel co-option; WNT signalling
  14. Adv Sci (Weinh). 2023 Jan 26. e2207693
      Transferrin receptor (TFRC) is the major mediator for iron entry into a cell. Under excessive iron conditions, TFRC is expected to be reduced to lower iron uptake and toxicity. However, the mechanism whereby TFRC expression is maintained at high levels in iron-enriched cancer cells and the contribution of TFRC to cancer development are enigmatic. Here the work shows TFRC is induced by adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene loss-driven β-catenin activation in colorectal cancer, whereas TFRC-mediated intratumoral iron accumulation potentiates β-catenin signaling by directly enhancing the activity of tankyrase. Disruption of TFRC leads to a reduction of colonic iron levels and iron-dependent tankyrase activity, which caused stabilization of axis inhibition protein 2 (AXIN2) and subsequent repression of the β-catenin/c-Myc/E2F Transcription Factor 1/DNA polymerase delta1 (POLD1) axis. POLD1 knockdown, iron chelation, and TFRC disruption increase DNA replication stress, DNA damage response, apoptosis, and reduce colon tumor growth. Importantly, a combination of iron chelators and DNA damaging agents increases DNA damage response and reduces colon tumor cell growth. TFRC-mediated iron import is at the center of a novel feed-forward loop that facilitates colonic epithelial cell survival. This discovery may provide novel strategies for colorectal cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  DNA damage response; TFRC; colon; iron; β-catenin
  15. Nat Biotechnol. 2023 Jan 26.
      Human intestinal organoids (HIOs) derived from pluripotent stem cells provide a valuable model for investigating human intestinal organogenesis and physiology, but they lack the immune components required to fully recapitulate the complexity of human intestinal biology and diseases. To address this issue and to begin to decipher human intestinal-immune crosstalk during development, we generated HIOs containing immune cells by transplanting HIOs under the kidney capsule of mice with a humanized immune system. We found that human immune cells temporally migrate to the mucosa and form cellular aggregates that resemble human intestinal lymphoid follicles. Moreover, after microbial exposure, epithelial microfold cells are increased in number, leading to immune cell activation determined by the secretion of IgA antibodies in the HIO lumen. This in vivo HIO system with human immune cells provides a framework for future studies on infection- or allergen-driven intestinal diseases.
  16. Cell Death Dis. 2023 Jan 24. 14(1): 56
      MAPK/JNK signaling is pivotal in carcinogenesis. However, ubiquitin-mediated homeostasis of JNK remains to be verified. Here, with results from RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and luciferase reporter pathway identification, we show that USP14 orchestrates MAPK/JNK signaling and identify USP14 as a deubiquitinase that interacts and stabilizes JNK. USP14 is elevated in colorectal cancer patients and is positively associated with JNK protein and downstream gene expression. USP14 ablation reduces cancer cell proliferation in vitro and colorectal tumorigenesis in vivo by downregulating MAPK/JNK pathway activation. Moreover, USP14 expression is induced by TNF-α, forming a feedback loop with JNK and leading to tumor amplification. Our study suggests that elevated expression of USP14 promotes MAPK/JNK signaling by stabilizing JNK, which in turn augments colorectal carcinogenesis, indicating a potential therapeutic target for colorectal cancer patients with increased USP14 expression.
  17. Front Genet. 2022 ;13 1088230
      Backgrounds: The tissue resident memory CD8 T cell (Trm) constitutes an important component of the local immunity. In the context of malignant tumors, mounting evidence also supports the potential anti-tumor property of this cell subset. Therefore, identification of Trm marker genes and exploration of the causative effect of Trm in shaping tumor microenvironment (TME) heterogeneity might provide novel insights for the comprehensive management of cancer patients. Methods: By dissecting a single T cell transcriptome dataset, we acquired marker genes for Trm, which were latter applied to bulk RNA sequencing profiles of two large colorectal cancer (CRC) patient cohorts downloaded from TCGA and GEO databases. First, colorectal cancer patients were divided into different Trm clusters using consensus clustering algorithm. Then, we established a Trm-related gene (TRMRG) risk score signature and tested its efficacy in predicting prognosis for colorectal cancer patients. Moreover, a sequence of rigorous and robust analyses were also carried out to investigate the potential role of Trm-related gene risk score in tumor microenvironment remodeling and therapeutic utility of it in colorectal cancer treatment. Results: A total of 49 Trm marker genes were identified by analyzing single cell RNA sequencing profiles. First, colorectal cancer patients were successfully classified into two Trm clusters with significant heterogeneity in functional enrichment patterns and tumor microenvironment landscapes. Then, we developed a Trm-related gene risk score signature and divided patients into different risk levels. High risk patients were characterized by attenuated immunogenicity, weakened sensitivity to immunotherapy, as well as adverse clinical outcomes. While low risk patients with advantages in survival exhibited increased immunogenicity, stronger metabolic activity and improved immunotherapeutic responses. Conclusion: Through combinatorial analysis of single cell and bulk RNA sequencing data, the present study identified Trm to play a non-negligible role in regulating the complexity and heterogeneity of tumor microenvironment for colorectal cancer. Moreover, the Trm-related gene risk score signature developed currently was corroborated to be tightly correlated with prognosis and therapeutic responses of colorectal cancer patients, thus exhibiting potential application value for clinical practice.
    Keywords:  colorectal cancer; immunotherapy; prognostic model; single cell RNA sequencing; tissue-resident memory T cells; tumor microenvironment
  18. Br J Cancer. 2023 Jan 26.
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide and is characterised by frequently mutated genes, such as APC, TP53, KRAS and BRAF. The current treatment options of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are met with challenges such as cancer recurrence, drug resistance, and overt toxicity. CRC therapies exert their efficacy against cancer cells by activating biological pathways that contribute to various forms of regulated cell death (RCD). In 2012, ferroptosis was discovered as an iron-dependent and lipid peroxide-driven form of RCD. Recent studies suggest that therapies which target ferroptosis are promising treatment strategies for CRC. However, a greater understanding of the mechanisms of ferroptosis initiation, propagation, and resistance in CRC is needed. This review provides an overview of recent research in ferroptosis and its potential role as a therapeutic target in CRC. We also propose future research directions that could help to enhance our understanding of ferroptosis in CRC.
  19. Cancer Discov. 2023 Jan 27. OF1
      Disease-relevant tumor morphologies are often intermixed and correspond with molecular gradients.
  20. Gastroenterology. 2023 Jan 23. pii: S0016-5085(23)00048-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Using colorectal cancer (CRC) as a model, we review some of the insights into cancer evolution afforded by cancer sequencing. These include: non-linear and neutral evolution; polyclonality of driver mutations and parallel evolution in adenomas, although only rarely in carcinomas; the ability of mutational processes to shape evolution against the force of selection; the presence of rare driver genes that function in the same signalling pathways as the longstanding canonical drivers; and the existence of selective windows that constrain the functional effects of cancer driver mutations within limits. Many of these nascent evolutionary paradigms are potentially important for treating CRCs as well as understanding their development.
  21. Nat Med. 2023 Jan 26.
      While BRAF inhibitor combinations with EGFR and/or MEK inhibitors have improved clinical efficacy in BRAFV600E colorectal cancer (CRC), response rates remain low and lack durability. Preclinical data suggest that BRAF/MAPK pathway inhibition may augment the tumor immune response. We performed a proof-of-concept single-arm phase 2 clinical trial of combined PD-1, BRAF and MEK inhibition with sparatlizumab (PDR001), dabrafenib and trametinib in 37 patients with BRAFV600E CRC. The primary end point was overall response rate, and the secondary end points were progression-free survival, disease control rate, duration of response and overall survival. The study met its primary end point with a confirmed response rate (24.3% in all patients; 25% in microsatellite stable patients) and durability that were favorable relative to historical controls of BRAF-targeted combinations alone. Single-cell RNA sequencing of 23 paired pretreatment and day 15 on-treatment tumor biopsies revealed greater induction of tumor cell-intrinsic immune programs and more complete MAPK inhibition in patients with better clinical outcome. Immune program induction in matched patient-derived organoids correlated with the degree of MAPK inhibition. These data suggest a potential tumor cell-intrinsic mechanism of cooperativity between MAPK inhibition and immune response, warranting further clinical evaluation of optimized targeted and immune combinations in CRC. registration: NCT03668431.
  22. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Jan 03. 6(1): e2252244
      Importance: The KEYNOTE-177 trial demonstrated that patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (MCRC) with high microsatellite instability (MSI-H) and/or mismatch repair deficiency (DMMR) have better outcomes when receiving first-line immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) compared with chemotherapy. Data on performance of ICIs in patients with MCRC in standard practice settings remain limited, and direct MMR vs MSI outcome association comparisons are lacking.Objective: To validate MSI (determined by next-generation sequencing [NGS]) as a biomarker of ICI effectiveness among patients with MCRC in standard practice settings and examine the association of MSI assessed by NGS, DMMR by immunohistochemistry, and tumor mutational burden (cutoff, 10 mutations/megabase) with ICI outcomes.
    Design, Setting, and Participants: This comparative effectiveness research study of outcomes in prospectively defined biomarker subgroups used data from a deidentified clinicogenomic database and included patients who received Foundation Medicine testing (FoundationOne or FoundationOne CDx) during routine clinical care at approximately 280 US academic or community-based cancer clinics between March 2014 and December 2021. The population included 1 cohort of patients with MSI-H MCRC who received first-line ICIs or chemotherapy and a second cohort who received ICIs in any line of therapy (LOT) for biomarker examination.
    Exposures: ICI therapy or chemotherapy assigned at physician discretion without randomization.
    Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcomes were time to next treatment (TTNT), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS). Hazard ratios were adjusted for known prognostic imbalances. Comparisons of explanatory power used the likelihood ratio test.
    Results: A total of 138 patients (median age, 67.0 years [IQR, 56.2-74.0 years]; 73 [52.9%] female) with MSI-H MCRC received first-line ICIs or chemotherapy. A total of 182 patients (median age, 64.5 years [IQR, 55.2-72.0]; 98 [53.8%] female) received ICIs in any LOT. Patients receiving first-line ICIs vs chemotherapy had longer TTNT (median, not reached [NR] vs 7.23 months [IQR, 6.21-9.72 months]; adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 0.17; 95% CI, 0.08-0.35; P < .001), PFS (median, 24.87 months [IQR, 19.10 months to NR] vs 5.65 months [IQR, 4.70-8.34 months]; AHR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.18-0.52; P < .001), and OS (median, NR vs 24.1 months [IQR, 13.90 months to NR]; HR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.23-0.88; P = .02). MSI added to DMMR better anticipated TTNT and PFS in patients receiving ICIs than DMMR alone. The same was not observed when DMMR evaluation was added to MSI.
    Conclusions and Relevance: In this comparative effectiveness research study, MSI assessed by NGS robustly identified patients with favorable outcomes on first-line ICIs vs chemotherapy and appeared to better anticipate ICI outcomes compared with DMMR.
  23. Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 27. 13(1): 1490
      Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancers accounting for 1.8 million new cases worldwide every year. Therefore, the identification of new potential therapeutic targets represents a continuous challenge to improve survival and quality of CRC patient's life. We performed a microarray analysis dataset consisting of colon biopsies of healthy subjects (HS) and CRC patients. These results were further confirmed in a clinical setting evaluating a series of CRC patients to assess the expression of Resistin-Like Beta (RETNLB) and to correlate it with their clinical data. Our results showed a significant reduction of RETNLB expression in CRC biopsies compared to the HS mucosa. Furthermore, such reduction was significantly associated with the TNM grade and patients' age. Furthermore, a significantly positive correlation was found within mutated subjects for KRAS, TP53, and BRAF. In particular, patients with poor prognosis at 5 years exhibited RETNLB lower levels. In-silico analysis data were confirmed by histochemical analysis in a series of CRC patients recruited by our group. The results obtained provided that RETNLB low levels are associated with an unfavorable prognosis in CRC patients and its expression is also dependent on adjuvant therapy. Further studies are warranted in order to evaluate the molecular mechanisms underlying the role of RETNLB in CRC progression.
  24. Front Oncol. 2022 ;12 1077053
      Natural killer cells are members of the innate immune system and promote cytotoxic activity against tumor or infected cells independently from MHC recognition. NK cells are modulated by the expression of activator/inhibitory receptors. The ratio of this activator/inhibitory receptors is responsible for the cytotoxic activity of NK cells toward the target cells. Owing to the potent anti-tumor properties of NK cells, they are considered as interesting approach in tumor treatment. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cause of death in the world and the incidence is about 2 million new cases per year. Metastatic CRC is accompanied by a poor prognosis with less than three years of overall survival. Chemotherapy and surgery are the most adopted treatments. Besides, targeted therapy and immune checkpoint blockade are novel approach to CRC treatment. In these patients, circulating NK cells are a prognostic marker. The main target of CRC immune cell therapy is to improve the tumor cell's recognition and elimination by immune cells. Adaptive NK cell therapy is the milestone to achieve the purpose. Allogeneic NK cell therapy has been widely investigated within clinical trials. In this review, we focus on the NK related approaches including CAR NK cells, cell-based vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and immunomodulatory drugs against CRC tumoral cells.
    Keywords:  CAR-NK cell; adoptive cell immunotherapy; cancer immune-cell therapy; cancer vaccine; check point inhibitor; colorectal cancer; natural killer cell
  25. Cancer Discov. 2023 Jan 24. pii: CD-22-1368. [Epub ahead of print]
      Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) using DNA Topoisomerase I inhibitor DXd/SN-38 have transformed cancer treatment, yet more effective ADCs are needed for overcoming resistance. We have designed an ADC class using a novel self-immolative T moiety for traceless conjugation and release of exatecan, a more potent Topoisomerase I inhibitor with less sensitivity to multidrug (MDR) resistance. Characterized by enhanced therapeutic indices, higher stability and improved intra-tumoral pharmacodynamic response, antibody-T moiety-exatecan conjugates targeting HER2, HER3, TROP2 overcome intrinsic or treatment-resistance of equivalent DXd/SN-38 ADCs in low-target expression, large-size and MDR+ tumors. T moiety-exatecan ADCs display durable antitumor activity in PDX and organoid models representative of unmet clinical needs including EGFR-del19/T790M/C797S triple mutation lung cancer and BRAF/KRAS-TP53 double-mutant colon cancer, and show synergy with PARP/ATR inhibitor and anti-PD-1 treatment. High tolerability of T moiety-exatecan ADC class in non-human primate supports its potential to expand responding patient population and tumor types beyond current ADCs.
  26. iScience. 2023 Jan 20. 26(1): 105919
      The formation of tumor immune microenvironment (TIM) is complicated and poorly understood. Little is known about the effect of a viral infection potentially inducing an additional immune response in the TIM. Here, we identify Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) expression in the TIM in colorectal cancer (CRC) tissue through EBV-encoded RNA in-situ hybridization and RNA sequencing data and investigate the effects of EBV on TIM composition and clinical outcomes. EBV was detected in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, but not in cancer cells. EBV positivity was associated with older age, male sex, and SMAD4 mutations. EBV-positive tumors were characterized by enrichment in chemokine/cytokine signaling pathways and altered immune cell composition, including plasma and CD4 T cells, as well as cancer cells intrinsically enriched pathways related to immune tolerance, leading to poor prognosis. In conclusion, we identified EBV expression in TIM and suggested its association with poor prognosis by altering the TIM in CRC.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Immunology; Microenvironment
  27. Front Immunol. 2022 ;13 1003419
      Introduction: Colorectal cancer (CRC) ranks second for mortality and third for morbidity among the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide. We aimed to investigate the heterogeneity and convergence of tumor microenvironment (TME) in CRC.Methods: We analyzed the single-cell RNA sequencing data obtained from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database and identified 8 major cell types and 25 subgroups derived from tumor, para-tumor and peripheral blood.
    Results: In this study, we found that there were significant differences in metabolic patterns, immunophenotypes and transcription factor (TF) regulatory patterns among different subgroups of each major cell type. However, subgroups manifested similar lipid metabolic patterns, immunosuppressive functions and TFs module at the end of the differentiation trajectory in CD8+ T cells, myeloid cells and Fibroblasts. Meanwhile, TFs regulated lipid metabolism and immunosuppressive ligand-receptor pairs were detected by tracing the differentiation trajectory. Based on the cell subgroup fractions calculated by CIBERSORTx and bulk RNA-sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we constructed an immune risk model and clinical risk model of CRC which presented excellent prognostic value.
    Conclusion: This study identified that the differentiation was accompanied by remodeling of lipid metabolism and suppression of immune function, which suggest that lipid remodeling may be an important trigger of immunosuppression. More importantly, our work provides a new perspective for understanding the heterogeneity and convergence of the TME and will aid the development of prognosis and immunotherapies of CRC patients.
    Keywords:  CIBERSORTx; ScRNA-seq; colorectal cancer; prognosis; tumor microenvironment